A COURTSHIP RITUAL WITH A TWIST
Young men adorned with traditional face painting deck up in their special attire for the attentions of marriageable young women.
THE FEMALE JURY
Women are the judges and all the contestants are male vying for supremacy.
GUÉREWOL OF THE WOODABE
A fancy affair where the men apply make-up and display their talents to attract a mate.
This is a normal scene of a beauty pageant, but the one described above has a twist: Women are the judges and all the contestants are male vying for supremacy.
In the landlocked country of Niger and Chad, hounded by the ruthless sun and the dry climate, this annual courtship competition is a welcome refreshing change. In the month of September, the people exhibit what they hold close to them as their rich tribal culture and traditions.
The Guérewol, or the Gerewol, is a fancy affair where the men apply make-up and display their talents to attract a mate. Their pursuit ranges from a lifelong bond of marriage to sometimes even just a night of passion. This beauty pageant is fiercely fought by the males of the Wodaabe Fula tribe, which is essentially a tribe of cattle-herders.
DAYS LONG RITUAL
NUMBER OF MEN TAKING PART IN YAKKE
“The highlight of Guérewol is the Yaake dance that is a display of stamina.”
They often break out in dance routines. The highlight of Guérewol is the Yaake dance that is a display of stamina. Fuelled by the hallucinogenic effect of the beverage made by fermented bark, the men dance for hours under the hot desert sun.
Young women judge these men on the basis of their height, whiteness of their eyes and teeth. In an attempt to emphasise these features, men flash their teeth and roll their eyes. As these men pass by the eligible women, a tap on their shoulder indicates the woman’s attraction towards the man.
At the climax of Yaake, the three main judges, usually the daughters of the past winners, choose the most attractive male. Each jury member chooses her own lover for however long the spark may last.
COURTSHIP SUI GENERIS
The males of the Wodaabe Fula tribe